The CIA, with a published annual budget of $55 billion, also has an unpublished, off-the-books budget. It is claimed that this is necessary for the job requirements of espionage and intelligence gathering. Unlike for Jack Bauer or James Bond, spying is more about the mundane business of bribes and payoffs than ejection seats and poison rings.
Several months ago the Speaker of the House claimed that the CIA had misled her about the Bush administration's activities in Iraq. Would the CIA lie to the Speaker of the House? Of course they would; why wouldn't they? What brake is there on the CIA? Who watches the watchers? After the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, John Kennedy complained to his brother that the CIA had tried to manipulate him into starting a war over Cuba.
The government of the United States had an open, public foreign policy position and the CIA had their own unpublished foreign policy. When a politician is subject to reelection, he or she is restrained in what they can do, but when there is no one watching the watchers, you can do whatever you like. You can make it look like whatever you want it to look like. Who will question you? The Speaker of the House? Just lie.
According to author Joel Bainerman, the CIA placed Ted Shackley in charge of America's secret war in Laos. The Laotian General, Vang Pao, was the leader of anti-communist forces in Laos and was waist deep in the heroin trade. In 1967 the CIA helped Pao to establish his own airline, Xieng Khouang Air Transport Company. If you look at these things clinically, without emotion, it could be rationalized that the CIA was only trying to curry favor with a powerful local despot. Like Roosevelt said about Nicaraguan President Samoza, "He's a son of a b*tch, but he's our son of a b*tch."
But the allegations run even deeper than the CIA helping a war lord to move his product; it is claimed that the CIA were his partners. General Pao was still unhappy because even though he had his airline, he still had competition in the drug trade. Shackley used CIA assets to bomb and sabotage the competition until General Pao had obtained a monopoly in Laos in the heroin trade.
According to Daniel Sheehan: "From late 1973 until April of 1975, Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Richard Armitage disbursed, from the secret, Laotian-based, Vang Pao opium fund, vastly more money than was required to finance even the highly intensified Phoenix Project in Vietnam. The money in excess of that used in Vietnam was secretly smuggled out of Vietnam in large suitcases, by Richard Secord and Thomas Clines and carried into Australia, where it was deposited in a secret, personal bank account (privately accessible to Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Richard Secord). During this same period of time between 1973 and 1975, Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines caused thousands of tons of US weapons, ammunition, and explosives to be secretly taken from Vietnam and stored at a secret 'cache' hidden inside Thailand."
In 1975, Secord was transferred to Iran to be chief of the Air Force's Military Advisors Group. Along with Ted Shackley, Secord established an arms sale company, the Egyptian American Transport and Service Corporation, or EATSCO for short. EATSCO was later found guilty on a charge of embezzlement from the Pentagon.
In 1980, Secord was promoted to the rank of major general in the air force. A year later Ronald Reagan appointed him deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. He was suspended for three months because of his role with EATSCO but was then reinstated by Frank Carlucci. In 1983 Secord established a new business, the Stanford Technology and Trading Group International. Would anyone like to guess what type of technology it was that Stanford traded in?
In 1985, Congress voted to supply $27 million in non-lethal aid to the Contras. The Reagan administration, with a thumb of their nose to Congress, then began to use this money to supply lethal aid to the Contras and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. Would anyone like to guess where these weapons came from?
According to Lawrence Walsh who carried out the official investigation, "Using a complex web of secret Swiss bank accounts and shell corporations managed by Willard Zucker at Compagnie de Services Fiduciaires (CSF) in Geneva, they built a lucrative enterprise from covert-operations business assigned to them by Lt. Col. Oliver L. North." Yep, Stanford Technology and Trading Group International.
In 1995, Gene Wheaton approached the Assassination Records Review Board with information on the death of John F. Kennedy. Anne Buttimer, Chief Investigator of the ARRB, recorded that: "Wheaton told me that from 1984 to 1987 he spent a lot of time in the Washington DC area and that starting in 1985 he was 'recruited into Ollie North's network' by the CIA officer he has information about. He got to know this man and his wife, a 'super grade high level CIA officer' and kept a bedroom in their Virginia home. His friend was a Marine Corps liaison in New Orleans and was the CIA contact with Carlos Marcello. He had been responsible for 'running people into Cuba before the Bay of Pigs.'"
During Congressional hearings into the Iran-Contra scandal, the Senate Subcommittee on Narcotics, Terrorism and International Operations launched an investigation of allegations arising from reports, more than a decade old, of contra-drug links. One of the incidents examined by the "Kerry Committee" was an effort to divert drug money from a counternarcotics operation to the Contra war.